Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Carne Rojo (Shredded Beef With Red Chilies)

Happy Cinco de Mayo, all! What's the Mexican classic on the Dinner Plan-it table tonight? My version of a Mexican classic, Carne Rojo, over cilantro rice and garnished with black beans, crema, jalapenos and cilantro. There WILL be a molcajete filled with guacamole, too.   

This recipe may be a little too late for you to make it for tonight's happy celebration of the Mexican victory over the French in 1862 at the Battle of Puebla, but there's nothing stopping you from making it all throughout the year, is there?  

Are you wondering what makes Rojo red? A TON of chilies! I used Ancho, Chipotle and Guajillo peppers and threw in the additional rosy hue of three kinds of paprika for emphasis...sweet, hot and smoked. For both depth of color and flavor, next I added in ground espresso and ground cocoa nibs. Cocoa nibs added sweetness as well as depth and dark brown sugar added even more of a balance of sweetness against the heat of the chilies. Garlic, onion and kosher salt rounded out the rub.

I'd recommend making a double batch so you have plenty of leftovers for tacos or tostadas for the next night's dinner...IF there are any leftovers. Oh. Don't forget a damned good margarita to celebrate in style!

Carne Rojo
(Shredded Beef With Red Chilies)

  • 3 lb chuck roast

  • 2 whole dried guajillo chilies, crumbled - get the dried chilies at Reyna's in the Strip District or even in the Mexican section of Giant Eagle, Whole Foods or Trader Joe's 
  • 3 T ground espresso
  • 3 T dark brown sugar
  • 2 T granulated garlic
  • 1 1/2 T kosher salt
  • 2 t onion powder
  • 2 t smoked paprika
  • 2 t chipotle powder
  • 2 t ancho chile powder
  • 2 t cocoa nibs, crushed with a mortar and pestle
  • 1 t hot paprika
  • 1 t sweet paprika
  • 1/2 t cinnamon

  • 1 T canola oil
  • 1 1/2 C water

Combine all the rub ingredients - crumbled guajillo peppers through cinnamon - and mix well. I used my molcajete for this step and ground the guajillo peppers and cocoa nibs together. You could easily use a spice grinder or just mix it all up in a bowl. This makes more than you will need, but save what's next for the next time you make this...there WILL be a next time.

Molcajete filled with Rojo Rub.

Put the beef on a baking sheet and put 2 T of the rub on the top side. Rub the rub into the meat thoroughly, pressing it into the meat and rubbing well. Flip the beef over and do the same thing on the other side.

Rojo rubbed chuck roast ready for browning.

In a deep enamel pot with a cover (one that just holds the beef is ideal, but a larger one is just fine, too), heat the oil on the stovetop. Once it is hot, gently place the rubbed beef into the pot. Brown on one side, then flip gently and brown the other side. Carefully add the water, bring to a boil, then lower the heat, cover with the lid and simmer until the beef falls apart easily. It took 3 hours for mine to get where I like it. Yours may take more or less time, so keep an eye on it and don't let it dry out. If necessary (it wasn't in my case), add a little more water.

Using two forks, shred the beef into the pan liquids and either serve immediately or keep warm until dinner. Or make it a day or two before...you know how things are better the next day! 

Serve over rice or spoon into tortillas or just serve it up in bowls. I spooned it over rice and will use the leftovers for tacos tomorrow.  Don't you love a versatile and delicious recipe? I know I do.

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